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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Default Themes of Family: Diana and the Amazons

    This is prompted out of the way the Amazons are depicted in Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, but is really more general.

    Back when Marston created Wonder Woman, he also created a social context for her in the form of the Amazons. The Amazons served two different narrative roles: the first as the environment that shaped and created Diana, the second as the ideal that Diana wanted to spread as she went to Man's World.

    Diana is presented as a hero and a good person because she was raised in a loving and nurturing environment. Even if she is molded from clay, she was crafted from love and raised as one of the Amazons: from a social perspective she is the best of them, not better than them or different than them. Her ideals and values are the Amazon ideals and values. She was also a wanted child. There were no purposes to her birth, from the point of view of Hippolyta, than wanting a child.

    In this way the Amazons are similar to the Kents, Superman's adoptive parents, who acts like representatives of an idealised America. The Kents literally takes in the homeless, tempest-tost Kal-El, raises him as their own, and infuses him with their ideals.

    When Pérez rebooted Wonder Woman he added some nuances to this template, but the core remained: Diana was a wanted and loved child, and she was raised to embody the Amazon ideals. Even if she was richly blessed by the gods, it was the Amazons who shaped Diana as a person.

    Pérez also introduced tensions and fracture lines among the Amazons with the creation of the Bana-Mighdall, but this had no impact on the relation between Diana and the Amazons of Themyscira.

    Various other depictions of Diana and the Amazons have introduced their own variations on the theme of the Amazons as a family.

    Gail Simone introduced tensions within Amazon culture that were organic to it with The Circle, but fundamentally it didn't change the relation between her and the Amazons.

    Azzarello crafted an entirely new relation between the Amazons and Diana. She is called "clay" and depicted as different from them. By the logic of superhero narratives, that also means that she suddenly is better than them as well. Her training and values are also depicted as coming not only from the Amazons, but Ares too. Then we get the reveal of the murderous rape Amazons and their male children. Diana's role is now not to save Man's World with Amazon values, but to save the Amazon's from their own values, and to save Man's World from them. It turns Diana away from being a hero of change to Man's World, and towards being a protector of the status quo.

    Rucka's Rebirth couldn't change everything that Azzarello had introduced, but it fully brought back a Diana who was of the Amazons. They gossiped about her, she had friends, and was a full (if junior) member of the Amazon society. Rucka created tension between her and Amazon society not by having her be treated differently by the other Amazons, but by having her longing for and curious about the world outside Themyscira.

    The 2017 movie is somewhat contradictory in these themes. The Themysciran parts of the movie very much presents Diana as one of the Amazons and a product of their society. There are differences between Hippolyta and Antiope on how to raise and train Diana, but she clearly is of Amazon society, and the values she learns are Amazon values. Hippolyta's grief over Diana leaving is also presented as the grief of a mother for her child leaving home.

    Ares's revelations change things a bit, since Diana was created from another purpose than longing for a child, but it is overshadowed by the on-camera depictions of little Diana growing up among her Amazon aunts. The movie's ending also affirms Diana's belief in the Amazon values, though now tempered through her contact with Man's World.

    Morrison's Earth One again places Diana as an outsider. She was not conceived or crafted out of love, but as a way to get revenge on Heracles. She is also presented throughout as a partial outsider, by not being allowed to participate in every part of their society. She is also drawn as physically different from them. Diana is presented as an agent of change for both Man's World and Themyscira, but it is Themyscira that is depicted as the one most in need for change and reform.

    So where is Wonder Woman Dead Earth here? We haven't seen the full story yet, but Diana's creation is again predicated on not longing for a child, but that she should be crafted as a protector and weapon. Her training and upbringing isn't in values or in being the best person she can be, but in order to control herself. Themyscira is also presented as a refuge first, not a refuge that has been made into a paradise. Diana is also again set up as a protector of Man's World, against her own family.

    To sum up, I think that Diana and the Amazons are narratively co-dependant. I won't say that it's impossible to examine and build up Diana by tearing down the Amazons, but they are literally the foundation she needs. A close examination of Amazon society can probably be done, but it needs to be done really carefully. So far, I think only Gail Simone has managed it amongst the main Wonder Woman writers.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  2. #2
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    Writers seem to really like making villains out of Diana's friends and family while ignoring her actual villains.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    For the patriarchal viewpoint, a single powerful woman protecting society is acceptable.

    However, a group of women intent on changing society, or even offering an alternative society, pretty much has to be dangerous villains.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

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    That being said, Dead Earth has the Amazons be a lot more sympathetic compared to the previous times the Amazons were evil.

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    Astonishing Member Korath's Avatar
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    Considering how toxic the very foundations of Themyscira are, it's not really surprising. An extremely xenophobic warrior society, does not produce the kindest souls, especially if they are immortals and thus with even less need to actually develop their technology (and I say that only because I know people complain about them not being light years ahead of the rest of the DCU, when the Amazons have neither the needs nor the means to be).

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Considering how toxic the very foundations of Themyscira are, it's not really surprising. An extremely xenophobic warrior society, does not produce the kindest souls, especially if they are immortals and thus with even less need to actually develop their technology (and I say that only because I know people complain about them not being light years ahead of the rest of the DCU, when the Amazons have neither the needs nor the means to be).
    They are not only warriors. That's a severe oversimplification of their characters and society.

    I think priorities are greatly skewed if we're looking at the former slaves/rape victims who TRIED to integrate with the outside world and were rejected and abused at every turn as the toxic ones. it is not their duty to fix the world or their oppressors, they had the opportunity to go to a safe space where they could be left alone and they took it. And the actual good WW authors can have Diana convince them to gradually reach back out to the rest of the world and let in outsiders without getting priorities wrong and painting THEM as the villains.

    The needs or the means are irrelevant. Superhero comics run on Rule of Cool. It's awfully "convenient" that reality needs to set in when its the womens' turn to have super science, when the dubious fantastical science runs rampant in the every day lives of DCU citizens. Meanwhile, the hidden societies of magical underwater people and goddamn talking gorillas get to keep theirs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Considering how toxic the very foundations of Themyscira are, it's not really surprising. An extremely xenophobic warrior society, does not produce the kindest souls, especially if they are immortals and thus with even less need to actually develop their technology (and I say that only because I know people complain about them not being light years ahead of the rest of the DCU, when the Amazons have neither the needs nor the means to be).
    How is it that you can say stuff like this but when writers call out Zeus for being an abuser, rapist and murderer, it becomes an example of disrespect for other people's cultures?

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Korath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    How is it that you can say stuff like this but when writers call out Zeus for being an abuser, rapist and murderer, it becomes an example of disrespect for other people's cultures?
    Because Zeus isn't just that, even if he has unsavory traits, and is more often than not used as a mouthpiece for the Monotheistic God, more so than the Greek divinity.

    Meanwhile, the Amazons uphold clear xenophobic policies (outright refusal of men on their island and a largely infused refusal to even consider going out to the world), use terms which highlight this ("Man's world" for instance) and yet somehow are more often depicted as in the right than the wrong. Because, thousands of years ago, some men did horrible things to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by SiegePerilous02 View Post
    They are not only warriors. That's a severe oversimplification of their characters and society.

    I think priorities are greatly skewed if we're looking at the former slaves/rape victims who TRIED to integrate with the outside world and were rejected and abused at every turn as the toxic ones. it is not their duty to fix the world or their oppressors, they had the opportunity to go to a safe space where they could be left alone and they took it. And the actual good WW authors can have Diana convince them to gradually reach back out to the rest of the world and let in outsiders without getting priorities wrong and painting THEM as the villains.

    The needs or the means are irrelevant. Superhero comics run on Rule of Cool. It's awfully "convenient" that reality needs to set in when its the womens' turn to have super science, when the dubious fantastical science runs rampant in the every day lives of DCU citizens. Meanwhile, the hidden societies of magical underwater people and goddamn talking gorillas get to keep theirs.
    If they want to be in their safe place, good for them. It doesn't make them morally superior. I'm not an Anglo-Saxon. I'm a French republican, which means that I believe in Universalism. All men and women are equals, deserve the same rights and the same duties, and it can only be achieved by living together, not alongside each others. A lot of work has still to be made, but I reject the creation of "Community of X" or "Non-mixed places" without a clear time-limit for members before they return to the larger society.

    I don't believe in the need for separate communities to even exist in a country. Peoples can be black, gay and vegans, and citizens of a country, or White, Bi and omni and citizens of the same country, and can live together if they focus on what set them together instead of apart. Safe place must be temporary, not permanent, otherwise they ensure that distinctions cement themselves in stone and nothing good can come out of it.

    As for the Gorillas and Atlanteans,the former have superior tech to display their enhanced mind compared to normal gorillas, I guess, while the very myth of Atlantis was that it was the peak human civilization which was destroyed and was centuries ahead of the rest of Mankind in term of technology. And of course, surviving and adapting to the underwater life had to lead to a lot of technological advancements. The Amazons living on Paradise Island have little reasons to develop further when they have reached the necessary tech level. Furthermore, Paradise is rarely linked to technology in people's mind, and I guess some form of "magical" elements are considered more attuned to the Amazons in people's mind.

    It's not a satisfying answer, but it's what I suspect is the main reason, not some bias that woman can't be technologically advanced.

    Then again, I question Marston obvious bias that women are inherently better than men, so I guess that bias can creep up everywhere.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Because Zeus isn't just that, even if he has unsavory traits,
    And the Amazons aren’t just a warrior culture. And frankly, saying Zeus has unsavory traits is putting it mildly.

    and is more often than not used as a mouthpiece for the Monotheistic God, more so than the Greek divinity.
    I have never seen anyone who wrote Zeus as a rapist and misogynist express a fond opinion on the Monotheistic God either. I think more often than not the people doing that have a neutral to hostile opinion about deities in general.

    Meanwhile, the Amazons uphold clear xenophobic policies (outright refusal of men on their island and a largely infused refusal to even consider going out to the world), use terms which highlight this ("Man's world" for instance) and yet somehow are more often depicted as in the right than the wrong. Because, thousands of years ago, some men did horrible things to them.
    Your take on the Amazons literally only applies to the Azzarello version.


    If they want to be in their safe place, good for them. It doesn't make them morally superior.
    It doesn’t make them the monsters you’re accusing them of being either.


    I don't believe in the need for separate communities to even exist in a country. Peoples can be black, gay and vegans, and citizens of a country, or White, Bi and omni and citizens of the same country, and can live together if they focus on what set them together instead of apart. Safe place must be temporary, not permanent, otherwise they ensure that distinctions cement themselves in stone and nothing good can come out of it.

    As for the Gorillas and Atlanteans,the former have superior tech to display their enhanced mind compared to normal gorillas, I guess, while the very myth of Atlantis was that it was the peak human civilization which was destroyed and was centuries ahead of the rest of Mankind in term of technology. And of course, surviving and adapting to the underwater life had to lead to a lot of technological advancements. The Amazons living on Paradise Island have little reasons to develop further when they have reached the necessary tech level. Furthermore, Paradise is rarely linked to technology in people's mind, and I guess some form of "magical" elements are considered more attuned to the Amazons in people's mind.
    These are some pretty strange arbitrary rules for why a fictional society would be advanced and one wouldn’t. Paradise simply means a place of exceptional happiness. It is not mutually exclusive with technology.

    It's not a satisfying answer, but it's what I suspect is the main reason, not some bias that woman can't be technologically advanced.
    Given superhero comics’ history when it comes to portraying women as equal to men and the medium’s lack of female scientists compared to their male counterparts, I’d say that it very much has to do with a bias towards women being seen as advanced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post

    Then again, I question Marston obvious bias that women are inherently better than men, so I guess that bias can creep up everywhere.
    Martson hasn't written the Wonder Woman comics in decades. It feels like you're projecting your dislike of the man's (admittedly outdated) philosophies onto everything that has ever been written about the Amazons in DC.

  10. #10
    Spectacular Member Psy-lock's Avatar
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    I don't mind changes to Diana's origin or portraying the Amazons as evil in an elseworld story, so I have no problem with Earth One or Dead Earth. Azzarello though...Yikes. Fortunately, this run was retconned out of existence and is pretty much elseworlds as well.

  11. #11
    Wonder Moderator Gaelforce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Because Zeus isn't just that, even if he has unsavory traits, and is more often than not used as a mouthpiece for the Monotheistic God, more so than the Greek divinity.

    Meanwhile, the Amazons uphold clear xenophobic policies (outright refusal of men on their island and a largely infused refusal to even consider going out to the world), use terms which highlight this ("Man's world" for instance) and yet somehow are more often depicted as in the right than the wrong. Because, thousands of years ago, some men did horrible things to them.



    If they want to be in their safe place, good for them. It doesn't make them morally superior. I'm not an Anglo-Saxon. I'm a French republican, which means that I believe in Universalism. All men and women are equals, deserve the same rights and the same duties, and it can only be achieved by living together, not alongside each others. A lot of work has still to be made, but I reject the creation of "Community of X" or "Non-mixed places" without a clear time-limit for members before they return to the larger society.

    I don't believe in the need for separate communities to even exist in a country. Peoples can be black, gay and vegans, and citizens of a country, or White, Bi and omni and citizens of the same country, and can live together if they focus on what set them together instead of apart. Safe place must be temporary, not permanent, otherwise they ensure that distinctions cement themselves in stone and nothing good can come out of it.

    As for the Gorillas and Atlanteans,the former have superior tech to display their enhanced mind compared to normal gorillas, I guess, while the very myth of Atlantis was that it was the peak human civilization which was destroyed and was centuries ahead of the rest of Mankind in term of technology. And of course, surviving and adapting to the underwater life had to lead to a lot of technological advancements. The Amazons living on Paradise Island have little reasons to develop further when they have reached the necessary tech level. Furthermore, Paradise is rarely linked to technology in people's mind, and I guess some form of "magical" elements are considered more attuned to the Amazons in people's mind.

    It's not a satisfying answer, but it's what I suspect is the main reason, not some bias that woman can't be technologically advanced.

    Then again, I question Marston obvious bias that women are inherently better than men, so I guess that bias can creep up everywhere.
    That is a wonderful outlook, but, sadly, it is far from reality. Women are still second class citizens in a good part of the world, and are abused by men *far* more than men are abused by women.

    It is not 'toxic' for women to want to live apart from people who not just refused to 'live together' as you would wish everyone to. They not only shunned them, but beat them, raped them, enslave them and killed them.

    It was the Amazons escaping from a toxic world, not them forming a toxic one by wanting to be left alone after all they had been through.

    Unfortunately, too many writers find it easier to make them angry, hateful and xenophobic.

    Now, considering that they are outnumbered and don't know if anyone will one day find the island (not to mention they have Doom's Doorway to guard), they have ample reason to advance in defensive and offensive capabilities, plus anything that would aid them in such. Torches don't illuminate all that well, so create another form of light. Communications are non-existent, so come up with a way to talk long distance. So on and such forth...

    Go with the original idea that they have a window to the outside world, and they not only have cause to advance but inspiration as well.

    Diana was originally a scientist (and I truly hate that that doesn't exist anymore) who created the Purple Ray (advances in medicine are *always* helpful to a society), and the Amazons invented things like the invisible jet.

    As to them being 'superior?' Whose to say they couldn't be? Despite making up half the populations, women are far less violent for example. A fantasy world where women create a better society? Is that any crazier than advanced gorillas or fish men being more advanced than the outside world?

  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Because Zeus isn't just that, even if he has unsavory traits, and is more often than not used as a mouthpiece for the Monotheistic God, more so than the Greek divinity.
    "Unsavory" is putting it mildly. At best he's still an abusive/neglectful husband and father who sleeps around and does nothing while his wife punishes his mistresses. At worst he can be a rapist in some interpretations. Yeah he's complex and other things, but calling out these bad morals isn't used to prop up the Monotheistic God.

    You always bring that up btw, but can you provide an example of the Wonder Woman comics where this is the case. They rarely, if ever, give a crap one way or the other about a Monotheistic God. The Greek myths are providing these examples all on their own, and honestly the comics are still generally pretty tame compared to the actual myths.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Meanwhile, the Amazons uphold clear xenophobic policies (outright refusal of men on their island and a largely infused refusal to even consider going out to the world), use terms which highlight this ("Man's world" for instance) and yet somehow are more often depicted as in the right than the wrong. Because, thousands of years ago, some men did horrible things to them.
    If they developed biases against men, it's hard to blame them. Yes it is xenophobic, but that can be a flaw for them to overcome without making them one note assholes who in turn victimize others (as Azzarello did). Perez's run has them try to overcome this bias and reach out again. This has all been addressed in better runs than the New 52.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    If they want to be in their safe place, good for them. It doesn't make them morally superior. I'm not an Anglo-Saxon. I'm a French republican, which means that I believe in Universalism. All men and women are equals, deserve the same rights and the same duties, and it can only be achieved by living together, not alongside each others. A lot of work has still to be made, but I reject the creation of "Community of X" or "Non-mixed places" without a clear time-limit for members before they return to the larger society.
    That's all well and good, but it's not the duty of the oppressed to fix the society that is oppressing them. Or it at least shouldn't fall just on them, but it unfortunately seems to. Idealism where everyone lives together in peace and harmony and everyone is treated fairly is something to aspire towards, but in the case of the Amazons both their lives and freedom were threatened. Sticking around for a possible ideal isn't sensible when they have an opportunity to preserve their own safety and freedom first and foremost, which SHOULD be the priority. They don't owe the outside world a thing, but still usually get convinced to try again anyway. Nobody but them has the right to determine what their "time limit" should be. I don't think it's right to enforce that view on anyone, it should be their choice if/when it happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    I don't believe in the need for separate communities to even exist in a country. Peoples can be black, gay and vegans, and citizens of a country, or White, Bi and omni and citizens of the same country, and can live together if they focus on what set them together instead of apart. Safe place must be temporary, not permanent, otherwise they ensure that distinctions cement themselves in stone and nothing good can come out of it.
    Yes but try telling them to stick around and try harder if their safety is threatened.
    It's the same with the X-Men currently. Their setup is deliberately morally gray, especially with some of the Mutants involved, but even then it's hard to blame them after the worlds government consistently build terrifying kill bots to wipe them out and the superhero community seemingly doesn't care.

    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    As for the Gorillas and Atlanteans,the former have superior tech to display their enhanced mind compared to normal gorillas, I guess, while the very myth of Atlantis was that it was the peak human civilization which was destroyed and was centuries ahead of the rest of Mankind in term of technology. And of course, surviving and adapting to the underwater life had to lead to a lot of technological advancements. The Amazons living on Paradise Island have little reasons to develop further when they have reached the necessary tech level. Furthermore, Paradise is rarely linked to technology in people's mind, and I guess some form of "magical" elements are considered more attuned to the Amazons in people's mind.

    It's not a satisfying answer, but it's what I suspect is the main reason, not some bias that woman can't be technologically advanced.
    Except that still comes across as the real reason. The reasons you listed are just excuses, I'm sorry. All comic book stuff is silly fun nonsense, let the Amazons have their cool tech. We're dealing with immortal warrior women on a magical island created by the actual Greek gods. There is zero real world equivalent to judge the logistics with too much.

    ...How do the Atlanteans evolve in water before they, yknow, drown?
    Last edited by SiegePerilous02; 02-21-2020 at 02:06 PM.

  13. #13
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    The Amazons problem is that writers can't decide what they want Paradise Island to be. Its ranged from a technologically advanced female utopia to a backwards, man hating dystopia and everything between.

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    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Diana is presented as a hero and a good person because she was raised in a loving and nurturing environment. Even if she is molded from clay, she was crafted from love and raised as one of the Amazons: from a social perspective she is the best of them, not better than them or different than them. Her ideals and values are the Amazon ideals and values. She was also a wanted child. There were no purposes to her birth, from the point of view of Hippolyta, than wanting a child.
    Perfect way of stating it. I like that so much. That's the way I want Diana to be. Not the only one with powers. Not the only really good one. Not the prophesied one. Not a god among them.

    In this way the Amazons are similar to the Kents, Superman's adoptive parents, who acts like representatives of an idealised America. The Kents literally takes in the homeless, tempest-tost Kal-El, raises him as their own, and infuses him with their ideals.
    Much stronger theme with early Diana than early Kents in the comics. They were not as significant part of Clark's story until the Superboy comics a decade later. Same for Krypton. I mean, yes they raised him, but we mostly saw him as a man in the present, without much insight in his formative years. I dislike later versions that played up the "farmboy" aspect as though it was inherently noble (rather than a common background of the time, and one that changed by the 1950s to him growing up in partly in town) or rural/smalltown people better than city folk. Anyway, my point is in the early days, childhood family/community was much more important in WW than in Superman. And in the silver age they did that thing I very much dislike where Clark thought of himself as Kryptonian first and the Kents as not his real parents sometimes and Clark not his real name and such.

    Considering how toxic the very foundations of Themyscira are,
    I agree, they really kind of are. For me, they need to be good and Diana raised as completely one of them. But you cannot keep the foundation of their society the idea that one sex is innately superior to another and make that a wholly good society, or a society that should be emulated. And that definitely was the original foundation - not just separatism, but superiority.

    I have never seen anyone who wrote Zeus as a rapist and misogynist express a fond opinion on the Monotheistic God either. I think more often than not the people doing that have a neutral to hostile opinion about deities in general.
    Definitely describes me. Both are fiction. One's a rapist, and the other controlling, narcissistic murderer. Both operate on "might makes right."
    Last edited by Tzigone; 02-22-2020 at 05:21 PM.

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    Extraordinary Member AmiMizuno's Avatar
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    I agree. I feel not all Amazons should hate men and have battled for centuries. That the amazons had brothers and sisters fighting with them before they got to the Island.

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